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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

It all ends in epic fashion.

Films opening this weekend:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - Maple Ridge; Amherst Dipson; Market Arcade; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals; Flix; Transit Drive-In
Winnie the Pooh - Maple Ridge; McKinley Mall Dipson; Elmwood, Transit, Galleria, Hollywood Regals; Flix; Transit Drive-In

Every story must come to an end and the saga of Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is no exception. Splitting the final novel of J.K. Rowling’s epic tale of wizardry into two films makes it possible for very little to be left out, but just as Part 1 lacked a complete arc, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is even less its own entity. The two parts must be joined, and when put together are easily as close to a perfect ending as one could hope.

Director David Yates—the surrogate father of the last four movies, including my favorite (Half-Blood Prince) and the generally most reviled (Order of the Phoenix)—and writer Steve Kloves somehow found a way to give their audience 130-minutes of pure adrenaline from start to finish. Everyone who chided Part 1 as being too much set-up, too much walking in the woods, and too little action should be happy to know that its conclusion leaves all breathless until the last spell is thrown.It starts with a bank heist, spirals through a roller coaster ride at breakneck-speed, continues on into a gigantic war between good and evil, and orchestrates a symphony of bloodshed and broken spells.

There are only three horcruxes left to destroy and the clues are easier to decipher. The search begins with Helena Bonham Carter’s underappreciated turn as Bellatrix Lestrange taking an unexpected turn from Polyjuice potion, countering her usual performance aptly described by some as akin to Heath Ledger’s unhinged Oscar-winning Joker. And it's followed by an exhilarating adventure filled with multiplication spells manifesting gold chalices without end, betrayal at the hands of goblins, and a soaring dragon ride—Rowling has never been one to disappoint.

The of countless characters before the credits roll, including the almost forgotten Emma Thompson, is a welcome surprise. And with Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), it isn’t simply the Three Musketeers anymore; everyone pulls their weight and without them all would be lost. The return of a phenomenon long extinguished in the Potter filmic universe—that of the House ghosts—also helps save with Ravenclaw's mistress served well by Kelly Macdonald.

Finally, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) confront each other, and everything comes full circle. It’s a fight that lives up to its billing, the two on opposites sides of a decimated stone walkway, on their knees and emanating powerful streams of magic into a tug of war. What was once a charming look at magic has turned dark and gritty, its realism in the face of fantasy becoming its most desirable quality.

Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and Professor Flitwick (Warwick Davis) rise to become the forces for good we always knew they would be; and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman getting his time to shine) is left to prove his allegiance once more. No one escapes the fight and its carnage—though largely on the periphery—is impressive in size and significance. But while Yates may hope to achieve Return of the King type scale—Alexandre Desplat’s sweeping score doing its best—gravitas never does quite overpower the fun within the danger.

Even though Deathly Hallows: Part 2 won’t be winning any Best Picture awards, I predict a nod as far as craft is concerned. Eduardo Serra’s cinematography is again stunning and surprisingly unhindered by the unnecessary 3D conversion—its lack of motion blur and overall subtlety a welcome sight. One can't deny that this series evolved into a sure-handed project of professionalism and entertainment for all ages, despite beginning with a couple ho-hum, by-the-numbers family films. As the children got older and the danger more daunting, the creators never looked away from the serious drama necessary to make the wished for victory more glorious. Love above all else stayed the course and proved to be a driving force, its existence behind every move Harry makes. Once and for all, the tale of Harry Potter has been laid to rest, and I could not have wished for better from all involved.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

[1] (L-R) DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter and RALPH FIENNES as Lord Voldemort in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
[2] (L-R) DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter, EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger and RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

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